Aug 10 - Summary of business headlines: S&P climbs six days in a row and Dow up five consecutive weeks but volumes dip; U.S. drought worse than expected, price spikes feared; Investors buy J.C. Penney turnaround plan; Manchester United IPO gets a red card. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street shakes off the willies caused by lackluster economic numbers out of China, making a minor late-day sprint and giving the S&P 500 its sixth winning session in a row. Blue chips are up five consecutive weeks in a row and the Nasdaq is up four. Trading volumes are light as investors await hints of possible monetary stimulus from Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke when he heads to the annual Fed retreat in Jackson Hole later this month. Stephen Wood of Russell Investments: SOUNDBITE: STEPHEN WOOD, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, RUSSELL INVESTMENTS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The data right now could go either way. When you look at consumer data, when you look at GDP data, inflationary data, jobs data, housing data - it gives ammunition to those on the Federal Reserve who just want to stick where we are right now and it also gives ammunition to the segments of the Federal Reserve who want to engage in more quantitative easing." The worst U.S. drought in more than half a century is having a more devastating impact on crops like corn than first expected. The corn harvest will be down 13 percent from last year, according to the Agriculture Department, sparking fears of a repeat of the 2008 global food price crisis. J.C. Penney is seeing early signs of success with its store and pricing overhaul, although last quarter's sales saw a bigger-than-expected drop and the retailer posted a loss. Shares jumped to their best close in seven weeks. Football and fancy free outside of the New York Stock Exchange to mark the debut of Manchester United. But on the trading floor, a red card for the stock, which barely moved from the below-range $14 IPO price. Finally, stocks drifted lower across Europe. Conway Gittens, Reuters